Rep. Duncan S. Hunter (R-CA) told a crowd at a border event this weekend that while he served as a Marine, he took photos of the bodies of dead combatants. Hunter, who appeared at the event with his former congressman father, admitted to this while defending Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who is accused of taking photos with the body of a slain combatant, but also of killing innocent, unarmed people. Hunter served in the United States Marine Corps in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Eddie did one bad thing that I’m guilty of too — taking a picture of the body and saying something stupid,” Hunter said, according to the Times of San Diego. He admitted to taking photos but said he did not share them or post them on social media. “But a lot of my peers… have done the exact same thing,” he said.
According to a Navy criminal investigation, Gallagher stabbed the 16-year-old Islamic State fighter repeatedly before posing with his body for pictures. He then texted the image to another SEAL and said, “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.” Gallagher allegedly intimidated fellow members of his platoon into remaining silent about the incident. According to testimony from team members, Gallagher also shot an unarmed young girl and an older man, and according to the New York Times, would “indiscriminately” fire machine-gun bullets and rockets into neighborhoods.
Hunter has been a vocal supporter of Gallagher and even held a Capitol Hill screening of footage from Gallagher’s helmet cam during his fight with the teen, which Hunter claims exonerates the SEAL. The footage has not yet been made public. Recently, President Donald Trump was reported to be considering pardoning Gallagher and other soldiers accused of war crimes.